Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Merton College, Oxford
|Warden||Dame Jessica Rawson|
Merton College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. The squat, square tower of its chapel is one of the city's landmarks. Mob Quad, built in the 14th century, is the oldest quadrangle (or courtyard) of any Oxford or Cambridge college and set the pattern for collegiate architecture for future generations (though this claim is disputed by Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, who say their Old Court is older). The other quads are Front Quad, Fellows Quad, St. Albans ("Stubbins"), and Rose Lane, across the magnificent Fellows Gardens. The garden fills the SE corner of the old walled city of Oxford. The walls may be seen from Christ Church Meadows.
Another remarkable, and little known, architectural feature is the tunnel, which has an opening in the old drying room, located in a subterranean realm of the college known as The Underworld, and which leads to a door to the stock room of the college bar. The door is locked and the whereabouts of the keys have been unknown for many years, since a former bar steward left the college.
The college was founded in 1264 by Walter de Merton, making it one of the earliest-established colleges of the University. (The title of earliest-established is disputed between Merton College, Balliol College and University College.) With the egregious interruption of the English Civil War it has been a fairly sleepy place ever since. Since the early 1980s its peaceful nature has been disturbed once a year by the infamous Time Ceremony, in which students dressed in formal 'sub fusc' walk around Fellows Quad backwards while drinking port in order to maintain the integrity of the space-time continuum as British Summer Time ends in October. The ceremony was invented by two undergraduates in 1970 as spoof on other Oxford ceremonies. In recent years, the college has achieved high placings in the Norrington Table.
Notable former Mertonians
This list of Merton Fellows and alumni is grouped into centuries; where the person's life spans more than one century, the (approximate) date of matriculation is used. The names are alphabetical by surname within each group.
- John Bainbridge, astronomer
- Sir Thomas Bodley, diplomat, scholar, and librarian
- William Harvey, physician
- Sir Henry Savile, scholar and statesman
- Max Beerbohm, author and caricaturist
- Lord Randolph Churchill, British statesman
- F. E. Smith, British statesman (at Merton as a graduate)
- Theodor Adorno, philosopher, sociologist, musicologist, and art critic
- Sir Lennox Berkeley, composer
- Sir Roger Bannister, middle-distance runner and neurologist
- Sir Basil Blackwell, bookseller and publisher
- Edmund Blunden, Professor of Poetry
- Frank Bough, broadcaster
- Leonard Cheshire, RAF pilot and philanthropist
- T. S. Eliot, poet
- Mark Haddon, author
- Andrew Irvine, mountaineer
- Sir Jeremy Isaacs, broadcaster and impressario
- Tim Jackson, auctioneer
- Alec Jeffreys, geneticist
- Philip Jones, musician
- Kris Kristofferson, actor and musician
- Professor Anthony Leggett, physicist
- John Lucas, philosopher
- Louis MacNeice, poet
- Reginald Maudling, politician
- HIH Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan
- Airey Neave, politician
- David Parkinson, broadcaster
- Reynolds Price, poet
- Sir George Radda, scientist
- Michael Ridpath, author
- Siegfried Sassoon, war poet (at Merton as a graduate)
- Howard K. Smith, journalist and broadcaster
- Frederick Soddy, scientist
- Sir Howard Stringer, businessman
- Mark Thompson, broadcaster
- Professor Niko Tinbergen, ethologist
- J. R. R. Tolkien, author and Merton Professor of English
- Professor Sir Andrew Wiles, mathematician
- Angus Wilson, author
The college preprandial grace, always recited before formal dinners in Hall and usually by the senior Postmaster present, is based on verses 15 and 16 of Psalm 145 . The precise words of the Latin are:
Oculi omnium in te respiciunt, Domine. Tu das escam illis tempore opportuno. Aperis manum tuam, et imples omne animal benedictione tua. Benedicas nobis, Deus, omnibus donis quae de tua beneficentia accepturi simus. Per Iesum Christum dominum nostrum, Amen.
This is fairly long by Oxford standards, but at least there is no postprandial grace.
Roughly translated it means: "The eyes of the world look up to thee, O Lord. Thou givest them food in due season. Thou openest thy hand and fillest every creature with thy blessing. Thou blessest us, O God, with all the gifts which by thy good works we are about to receive. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen."
- Bott, A. (1993). Merton College: A Short History of the Buildings. Oxford: Merton College. ISBN 0952231409.
- Martin, G.H. & Highfield, J.R.L. (1997). A History of Merton College. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199201838.
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